The Crucible of Transmutationanecdotes about the creative process

Lounge Singer

One of the most unusual personalities on television is “The Box” - a walking, talking cardboard box representing the Progressive Corporation. It has been involved in all sorts of amusing scenarios, but in the latest appearance, we discover that The Box can sing. Who knew?

In late 2018, I was hired by Zero VFX to bring The Box to life for its latest round of “The Box” commercials. In particular, I was asked to animate a lounge singer and record album infomercial parody, Live from the Starlight Lounge! When I first started the gig, a lot of different song segments had been recorded but the client had not yet decided which ones would actually be used in the commercial. The songs were all cleverly written and voice actor Chris Parnell did a great job of singing them. To get a head start, I went ahead and animated an initial pass for at least twelve segments, knowing that most of them would not end up in the final. Some really good songs failed to make the cut, but eventually the client approved an edit so I proceeded with the final animation.

The brilliant Mike Warner at Zero VFX supervised this particular project. Since I had previously animated several Box commercials for Mike, I was familiar with the quirks of how The Box was supposed to behave. One of the trademarks of the character was the cartoon-styled mouth that moves dramatically all over its face. The mandate for the body mannerisms was to create as much realism as possible. Restraint was required as to how far the character could bend lest it be deemed too rubbery. One of my biggest challenges was to deliver a character performance that would please all the powers that be. Sometimes I received notes on the nuances of the performance that came from both Mike and the advertising agency (Arnold Worldwide). Unfortunately, these parties were not necessarily on the same page. Character animation is a subjective art, and opinions on the style of acting can vary. The trick is to find the right balance of ideas and keep everyone happy, including myself! Andrew Rasmussen handled the lighting and texturing of The Box and did a fantastic job matching the difficult high-contrast light of the Starlight Lounge. The project was a pleasure to work on, and it turned out to be among the best of all “The Box” commercials.

© 2019
Box commercial © 2019 The Progressive Corporation
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